The TikTok Trick That Will Clear Your Garbage Disposal

A double sink in a kitchen window

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So, there’s no doubt about it—TikTok can be a little odd sometimes. From school vandalization trends to the actually terribly unsafe sunscreen tanning ‘hack,' misinformation and frankly, untrue information can spread like wildfire. But amidst the not-so-great videos are gems like this one—a trick that will clear your garbage disposal. At The Spruce, we're dedicated to everything home, so we had to try it. (And spoiler alert: it actually works.)

When it comes to cleaning or clearing your garbage disposal, there are endless suggestions but no real solutions. That is, until this hack came along. Tried and loved by our team, here’s what you need to do if you’re sick and tired of having a nasty disposal.  

How the TikTok Trick Works

The first thing you need is to get a handful of ice cubes. Size for these doesn’t really matter, as long as they are small enough to be tossed into the sink and chopped up easily. (So, not those giant-size cubes—cocktail ice—that people use for Old Fashioneds.)  

First, dump the ice into your sink. Then, turn on the garbage disposal while simultaneously adding hot water. (The water can be from the sink spout, or, if you want to get really fancy you can boil water first and throw it in).

Although the trend doesn’t show the water being added before turning on the disposal, we recommend doing so. This way, there’s other liquid mixed with the crushed ice. Depending on how old or how sensitive your disposal may be, just turning it on with ice could potentially cause problems. (Although it’s unlikely, it’s better to be on the safe side!)  

And that's it. In just a few moments, you’ll see the ice get crushed, the gunk that was stuck or trapped in your disposal rise to the surface and then get sucked down, and—believe it or not—the smell will actually go away.

Of course, you can’t smell the kitchen through the TikTok video, but our team reports a fresher, cleaner sink. 

What to Look Out For

With any trend or trick, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario (or just be on the safe side) before you begin. If you’re planning on doing this hack at home, be sure to clear the area before you start. That means double-checking the inside of your disposal and removing anything from the sink—utensils, plates, etc.  

If you have children or pets at home, be sure that they are either way from the area or, in the case of children, taught proper safety with the sink and disposal. If this is something you want to try together, perhaps have your child turn on the switch rather than being close to the sink, just to prevent accidental mishaps. 

Also, be sure to remove anything that may fall into the sink from your ‘work’ area. Depending on the size of your sink or kitchen, the disposal may rattle and cause something to drop. Be sure to prevent this before you start. And, if you’re filming the hack for your own enjoyment or for social media, you’ll also want to make sure your phone or other recording device is safely secured. (You wouldn’t want that getting diced while the disposal is on.)  

Other Garbage Disposal Hacks 

Having a garbage disposal can be a great addition to your kitchen, but if you don’t take care of it, you’ll find yourself a bit more stressed than necessary. Here are a few suggestions to stay on top of your disposal care:  

To prevent clogs, try to avoid things like fibrous foods (thick breads/toasts for example), grease/oil, or hard objects. While a garbage disposal can be a great way to break down food, you can also consider composting items from your kitchen instead. In the case of grease or oil, recycle an old coffee can and spill your oil into there after you’re finished cooking. This will not only prevent your garbage disposal from sticking, but it is a great way to keep the hot oils out of your sink and trash altogether.

If you find that your garbage disposal is not turning on, making a sound but not running, or jammed, there are a few options. From resetting the power to tightening bolts, you can first try some disposal DIY tricks. If that doesn’t solve the problem, though, you may want to ask an expert to get things running again. 

All in all, your garbage disposal can be your best friend or worst enemy—it’s all about how you take care of it. And, with this TikTok trend, cleaning and clearing has never been easier.